Suikoden 3 isn't as bad as McDohl says, and Suikoden 4 isn't as bad as shivam says. Both games get way more wrong than they get right, and suck in their own special and unique ways. =)

Phew! Glad to hear it. Short game, eh guys?

You bet, Cleo! It slices, it dices, it makes julienne fries! Actually what's going on here is that the Liberation Army got their hands on some blueprints for a miracle weapon called a fire spear...

...yes, thank you Sanchez. Anyway Odessa and her men are planning ahead; when it's time to meet the Imperials head-on, they hope to use this fire spear doohickey to give them an advantage. They need to pass the blueprint off to someone from the Liberation's secret factory, though, and Odessa wants ○∆□☆ to take care of this for her. There's some back and forth as to whether or not ○∆□☆ should be the one to handle it; Gremio finds the idea of betraying the Empire abhorrent, and Flik doesn't think the army is big enough for two hot-headed upstart little punks.

○∆□☆ seems to like the idea, though, and agrees to the mission.

Yes, Gremio, that's the goddamned idea.

Hey, yeah, I think I know the place!

When Odessa reveals her intent to come along and see this thing done of course her boyfriend wants to come too. She tells him to stay behind and protect the Liberation headquarters.

Nobody thinks to suggest Viktor stay behind and hold down the fort so Flik can come along and see how awesome and trustworthy ○∆□☆ is for himself.

By the way, this big guy standing here has been staying out of the conversations because he's antisocial as all crap. The best Humphrey scene is in Suikoden 2 where you are introduced to someone as "Sir Humphrey's friends" and his immediate probably-not-joking response is "Humphrey has friends?"

Yep, I remember this place alright!

Halfway up we get stopped by the sketchiest dude this side of Kraze, who invites us into his mountain hovel to put our feet up.

If you say you want to keep going, everyone just kind of abandons you out in the cold.

Bitch, I done scaled this mountain myself like six quests ago. Ain't nothin' up here that can scare me. Sheesh.

Oh boy, I can't wait! Of course there's no way to get out of drinking the creepy mountain man's bitter poisoned tea, and...

...we all freakin' fall for it. Is it any wonder why the Liberation Army is a half dozen people strong and operates out of a sewer?

Hey! I won that money FAIR AND SQUARE by rigging an androgynous vagrant's cup game in my favor!

Fortunately for us Ledon's boss shows up, recognizes Odessa, and threatens to decapitate him unless he brews up an antidote. Which he does in short order, presumably because it's damn hard to make poisoned tea without a head.

Odessa is pretty quick to forgive the attempt on her life. Nobody asked ○∆□☆ but he would have voted for castrating Ledon and making him wear his testicles like a little hat.

To make up for the fact that he tried to murder us and steal all our worldly possessions, Ledon lets us stay at his inn for the night. During our stay Kessler pours his heart out to ○∆□☆ about how much he loves Odessa and how she's doing the great things most people only think about doing. Soon enough everyone wakes up and Ledon lets us out into the second half of Mt. Tigerwolf.

Great Thing About Suikoden #658: if possible, the game will resolve more than one normal attack at a time, speeding up battles considerably. When you've got six combatants standing on either side of the field this feature is practically a necessity.

Now that I've got some buddies with me, I can pick up the rest of the treasures I had to pass up earlier. I have no idea what this rune does (I think it's a special attack?), so it's just gonna get sold unless one of you cats has a burning desire to see it in action.

Gremio isn't kidding about Sarady being a small town. For serious we can see pretty much all of it in this screenshot.

Um, I was just here like a week ago. Your memory sucks, dude.

Universal Suikoden axiom: whenever the game makes you stay the night somewhere, you are in for a heart-to-heart with someone. Odessa gets all sappy here about how much responsibility she carries and how she's not sure she can live up to the expectations everyone has laid out for her. Then she changes the subject and starts talking about ○∆□☆'s eyes. Fortunately before she gets to the part where her daddy never hugged her growing up, a ninja shows up.

It seems to be some kind of Liberation Army code. "The owl croons at midnight." "Copy that. The underwear is back in the drawer. I repeat: we've put the underwear back in the drawer. It is folded."

Just the slightest implication that ○∆□☆ might have had relations with a lady terrifies Gremio to the point where he chokes on his own words.

The game makes us march all the way back to Lenankamp manually (making it my fourth trek through Mt. Tigerwolf), and when we get back we find the place has been raided. None of our Liberation friends are here, and instead of cautiously investigating the scene Odessa rushes off into the hideout alone...

...and gets into trouble, of course.

You heard right, girls: women can't be leaders. PASS IT ON.

Odessa has two dying requests. The first is to deliver an earring to a man she knows, Mathiu, in the town of Seika to our south. The second is to pitch her corpse into the "stream" flowing underneath Lenankamp. Viktor refuses to believe she's dying in the first place, and Gremio is appalled that Odessa wants her corpse desecrated, but her sick plot actually makes sense:

And that's something else we all love about Suikoden. This game does NOT pull punches. There is no deus ex machina to swoop in and save Odessa, no subquest to bring her back to life. She dies here in the sewer at the hands of some random Imperial soldier, not to a hated villain I'll face off against in the endgame. She passes away before a group of total strangers, not in the arms of her lover. Then, to top things off, she wants her body discarded like trash because that's the only way her dreams will ever come to fruition. This is a pretty cold scene, very uncharacteristic of jRPGs. First time I played this game the only heroes I'd ever seen die in my RPGs had been Aeris and Crono; the former getting major screen time and a huge plot thread, and the latter being reversible. Coming off those Odessa's death felt like a punch in the gut.

No time to mourn, we have to get on with our life. Looks like we've gotta break through a fortress in order to find this Mathiu fella. Before that though...

Now that ○∆□☆'s rune has eaten a soul (Odessa's) it levels up, giving him access to L1 Soul Eater magic. This makes the various storyline deaths in Suikoden even more horrifying; anyone close to ○∆□☆ who dies becomes consumed by his rune and adds to his power. Since magic runes have four levels in the Suikoverse, that means we've got three more gutwrenching death scenes to watch, complete with the knowledge that those poor bastards get to be gobbled up by the magic tattoo on ○∆□☆'s hand.

This is the end of the prologue; once I go thorugh this fortress I won't be able to return to the Imperial region of the world until the endgame. This means I can't visit Gregminster, Rockland, Sarady or either of the mountains for a long time. I've still got about 70k bits, so no need to make a withdrawal at the Marco ATM.

Every Suikoden game has a prologue like this, a few missions to run before you get into the real meat of the game. I think Suikoden 1 gets this length just right: a few missions as Imperials, a few missions on the run, a little bit of Soul Eater plot, a little bit of Liberation Army plot, and boom, on with the game. You can tell when you're playing the game "for real" because you've recruited your tactician and getting missions from him instead of just taking whatever comes. Once I meet up with Mathiu I will begin building my army in earnest, but first I have to get through Kwaba somehow. Viktor of course has a brilliant plan:

Hey peanut gallery!
This is possibly the most important decision we will ever make in the entire game. Don't screw this one up, guys.

No change in the star list, but here it is anyway. Pretty soon we'll have our castle and will be filling it up like crazy.

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